Q I am excited, yet somewhat anxious, about my daughter starting Primary 1 soon. When she started kindergarten, she initially suffered from separation anxiety and refused to go to school for a few months. Do you have any advice on what I can do to help ease my child into Primary 1?
A I can understand your mixed emotions on your daughter starting to receive formal schooling.
Here are some expert tips that I have collated from various parenting sites on how to help her adapt to the new routine and school environment.
First, share your own experiences of starting school with your child, such as who your favourite teachers were and who your best friend in Primary 1 was.
It is normal to feel anxious, but remember that your child can easily pick up on your emotions... Be excited and enthusiastic about her starting school. This sends her the positive message that school is exciting and that she will cope and have fun.
Ask her what she is looking forward to. Maybe it will be the new friends she will make or perhaps she hopes to catch up with some friends from kindergarten who will be attending the same school.
It is important to familiarise your child with her new school environment. So it will be helpful to attend the school orientation programme if you have not already done so, or accompany her on her first day of school.
Walk around the school and familiarise your child with the important areas, such as the car or school bus drop-off point, the assembly hall, toilets, canteen and general office.
Explain to her the basic school rules, such as putting up her hand to ask to go to the toilet and doing what the teacher asks.
You may stay a while to ensure your child feels secure, but once she has settled in, show her where you will meet her at the end of the school day and bid her goodbye.
Make sure you arrive in time to pick up your child at the end of the school day.
Encourage her to talk about her day in school - about her teacher, the friends she made and the canteen food.
It is good to develop a routine for your child.
Teach her how to read the lesson timetable. Show her how to pack her schoolbag, based on the subjects shown in the timetable.
Pack a change of clothes in a plastic bag and let your child know these clothes are there in case of accidents.
It would also be useful to plan an after-school routine for your child, such as setting aside time for lunch, homework and play.
At home, set aside a specific area for her to keep her schoolbooks and materials.
Teaching her to manage her daily allowance is important.
Decide how much you are going to give her daily and show her how to keep it safe and how to use it for recess, stationery and books.
Get to know her form teacher and the teacher's preferred times and means of communication.
If you have any concerns, raise them early to prevent them from developing into bigger problems.
The school and teachers usually relay information to parents through the children, through written and verbal instructions in class.
Check these forms regularly and let your child know the importance of relaying the information, by passing on the forms or writing the instructions in her student diary.
Think about joining the school's parent support group. Being involved keeps you updated on events in the school and provides you and your child with opportunities to have shared experiences and conversations.
It is normal to feel anxious, but remember that your child can easily pick up on your emotions. Give her lots of love and support. Be excited and enthusiastic about her starting school. This sends her the positive message that school is exciting and that she will cope and have fun.
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